Robotics

Sphero SPRK+ robo-ball to get kids rolling with programming

Sphero SPRK+ robo-ball to get kids rolling with programming

Analysts, researchers, and even governments believe that IT jobs will still be en vogue by 2020, but the number of jobs will outnumber the roster of students capable of filling those openings. That's why a lot of companies and programs are trying to start kids young by introducing them to the world of computers and robotics, in the form of games, of course. One of those is Sphero, which is releasing its new and improved SPRK+ robot ball (ro-ball? ballbot?) and updated Lightning Lab app to get kids developing apps at a very early age.

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Pint-sized exoskeleton aims to help kids walk again

Pint-sized exoskeleton aims to help kids walk again

The exoskeleton the little boy in the image here is wearing was created by engineers from the Spanish National Research Council and rather than being designed for adults, this one is designed to help children. Specifically the 26-pound aluminum and titanium exoskeleton aims to help children with spinal muscular atrophy known as SMA. The simple act of walking could help stave off potentially deadly side effects of the disease.

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Eidos, Razer, Open Bionics to make Deus Ex augmentations real

Eidos, Razer, Open Bionics to make Deus Ex augmentations real

There is an oft quoted (or misquoted) line about how life imitates art more than the other way around. In some cases, when art is expressed in a fantasy, futuristic form, that is almost impossible. Three different but connected companies, however, are going to team up and bring their unique specializations together to make life indeed imitate art. In this case, that means bringing the robotic, augmented limbs depicted in the Deus Ex game franchise to reality. Which may or may not be a smart idea, depending on which side of the transhumanism debate you stand on.

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Harvard researchers create ‘muscles’ for soft-bodied robots

Harvard researchers create ‘muscles’ for soft-bodied robots

Humans are soft, easily bruised creatures, and robots are, well, not so soft. If a hard-bodied robot swings its arm around, not realizing your face is nearby, you're going to get a black eye, and no one wants that to happen. Soft-bodied robots are ideal for this reason -- it's harder for them to accidentally injure you -- and Harvard researchers have taken steps toward bringing these gentler robots to life. In a recently published study, the team details a new type of actuator that functions like a muscle.

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Robomow robotic mowers are like a Roomba for your lawn

Robomow robotic mowers are like a Roomba for your lawn

Summer is finally here, and that means mowing the lawn, and that means griping about mowing the lawn and contemplating yet again about replacing the sod with mulch. If mowing really isn't your thing, Robomow wants you to consider its alternatives: robotic law mowers that are basically big Roombas with blades on the bottom.

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Pittsburgh Steelers test robot tackling dummies

Pittsburgh Steelers test robot tackling dummies

The Pittsburgh Steelers are experimenting with robot tackling dummies that chase players across the training field, potentially ramming into them with columnar, padded bodies. The robot dummies are able to operate independently, featuring a base upon which they can roll and brake. In a demonstration video posted by the NFL, the dummies are able to zoom after someone, brake when they dodge, and reverse course quickly.

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Toyota is giving DEKA’s iBOT wheelchair a second life

Toyota is giving DEKA’s iBOT wheelchair a second life

In August, iBOT would have been celebrating its 10th birthday had not Johnson and Johnson quietly and without warning sold off the motorized wheelchair that promised to give the elderly and the disabled a new reason to get up in the morning. Seeing the potential use, not to mention market, for this contraption, Toyota Motor North America entered into a partnership with DEKA in order to develop and launch the next iBOT wheelchair, which will hopefully fare better than its predecessor.

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Google IO’s most pointless surprise is also its best

Google IO’s most pointless surprise is also its best

This year's Google IO developers conference had both a brand new mostly-outdoor venue and a rather brightly-colored surprise. This surprise was a robot arm - one that was able to paint a cube in front of our very eyes. What's awesome about this robot arm - beyond the fact that it's a robot with a paint brush - is that it's not entirely pre-programmed. Paint colors and actions are selected by users like yourself with a smartphone app dedicated to said actions.

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Prosthetic bionic arm has integrated charger, light, and drone

Prosthetic bionic arm has integrated charger, light, and drone

About four years ago, a man called James had a freak accident while trying to board a train that resulted in him falling under the train, severing his left leg, and severely damaging his left arm among other grievous injuries. The left arm was eventually amputated. The man recovered and was given an incredible prosthetic arm that has all sort of integrated functions in an experiment that seems right out of a science fiction movie.

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This quadcopter drone can land on ceilings and walls

This quadcopter drone can land on ceilings and walls

We've seen consumer drones of various sizes, as well as those with varying camera and photography capabilities, but what about when it comes to landing on surfaces other than the ground? Research students at Stanford University have been exploring that exact idea, and have developed a quadcopter that can perch on the ceiling, as well as walls in a vertical position, just like a spider or insect.

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U of Michigan robot learns to walk on rugged, uneven terrains

U of Michigan robot learns to walk on rugged, uneven terrains

The University of Michigan has a bipedal robot, and it is able to walk without support. The researchers working with the robot recently showcased their creation walking on unstable and uneven ground, marking an update in its movement capabilities. The types of difficult terrain include ones covered with a “thin layer” of snow and steep slopes. The algorithms powering the robot’s walking abilities could one day aid other bipedal robots in tough environments.

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Robot monk Xian’er teaches temple visitors, chants mantras

Robot monk Xian’er teaches temple visitors, chants mantras

Longquan Temple, a Buddhist temple not too far from Beijing, is home to Xian’er, a 2ft. tall robot monk donned in a yellow robe and seeming holding a tablet in his hands. The robot is an unexpected blend of modern with the ancient, and is designed to, among other things, teach visitors some basic things about Buddhism. When not teaching, the robo-monk can chant mantras. The robot’s purpose is fairly simple — it is designed to attract visitor attention that may otherwise be dedicated to a smartphone.

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